The first-in-the-nation presidential primary happens today and the winners, when the votes are counted, will be all too predictable.
On the Democratic side, Vermont’s Independent Senator Bernie Sanders – from next door to New Hampshire – will win. Big. Maybe Super Big. Hillary Clinton is going to suffer a major defeat which could have heads in her campaign rolling as early as tomorrow. New Hampshire made Bill Clinton the “comeback kid” in 1992, and Hillary Clinton the “comeback woman” in 2008, but alas, the Granite State is nothing if not loyal to its own. And let’s be honest, Vermont and New Hampshire are really just one big state cut in half.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump, who like Sanders has dominated the New England media market for years, will easily prevail. His win will be backed by Republicans, and some Independents and a few Democrats who will cross over to vote for him. If margin is single digits, which I think it will be, that means the polling for him will have been off…again. If Trump can’t blow out the opposition here, he is the marginal candidate many of us have predicted all along.
In second place I predict Ohio Governor John Kasich – not Marco Rubio – and if this happens, he will deserve headlines in Wednesday’s papers. The average of polling in New Hampshire has Kasich running fourth, but I believe all of his town hall meetings – much like John McCain in 2000 – will pay off across the state. A few Independents will jump on his bandwagon too. This will be a huge well deserved victory for the Buckeye State candidate. No Republican, remember, has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio.
In third will be Rubio. Yes, his last debate performance was weak. But he still has the most charisma of all the candidates and many New Hampshire voters believe he represents the best candidate the GOP has to offer for November.
Following Rubio will be Jeb! Bush. That will be enough to punch his ticket (with all the cash he still has in the bank) to South Carolina and beyond. Don’t look for Jeb! to go anywhere, yet – although the calendar with all these southern conservative states coming up don’t look good for him.
Ted Cruz, with the few evangelicals in New Hampshire, will place fifth. That’s fine for him. He’s a candidate for the far-right, but in states where moderates vote, he has no chance. He’ll do fine in South Carolina thanks to Bob Jones University and the upstate.
Chris Christie, who took a bat to Rubio’s knees in the last debate, will trail the pack. That should be the end of his campaign. If the New Jersey governor can’t make a case in New Hampshire, there is no rationalizing his candidacy moving forward.
Carly Fiorina might surprise a few people and place ahead of both Cruz and Christie. If that happens she’ll get a bit of a bounce, but still you can’t finish fifth and claim a win. Her campaign is going nowhere.
Ben Carson will place last in New Hampshire. The question now is whether he survives to South Carolina or drops out this week and endorses his nemesis Cruz. Or could Trump make a secret deal with him (think a cabinet position). In all honesty, Carson should have just stayed in that hallway at the last debate and not come out. His campaign is done.